Dubai, the second largest city and the UAE's main port and commercial center, had an estimated population of 860,000 in 2002. Dubai City is divided by Dubai Creek. The creek was dreged in the 1950s. The division and the dreging of the creek allowed Dubai to have a natural harbor. The harbor, combined with Dubai's strategic location along the Persian Gulf, has caused Dubai to become one of the leading commercial and trade centers in the world.The growth of Dubai really began when the Sheik of Dubai convinced the British, in the 1940s, to make Dubai their main port of call during trips between Britain and India. The discovery of oil in the 1960's led to further growth in the port city. Do to the growth of the city and the increased demand to use it as a port of call, a deep water harbor, Port Rashid, was built. When it was completed in 1972, it contained 35 berths and was able to service the largest ships. An even larger port was built a little south of the city in Jebel Ali. This port contained 67 berths, and is one of the largest man made ports.
Dubai is attempting to become a leading passenger and freight hub by undertaking several major initiatives. Dubai International Airport, which now supports 105 airlines, is undergoing a US$4.1 billion expansion, including the construction of a third passenger terminal and two new concourses, as well as a cargo terminal enabling cargo capacity of 3 million tons per year by 2018. In 2004 passenger traffic at the airport rose by 20 percent, to 21 million people. The expansion is expected to increase passenger capacity to close to 60 million people. Dubai also will build a second airport-Dubai International Airport City-with six runways and the capacity to handle 120 million passengers per year. Work is expected to begin in 2005, but no completion date has been set. In addition, the state airline, Emirates, is planning a major expansion. It has ordered 45 Airbus A380 "superjumbo" airliners, the largest single order for the aircraft from any airline.
Dubai has also established the Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone in 1985, hosting over 1,125 companies from 72 countries. That makes it the fifth largest free trade zone in the world. To keep up rapid change of technology, Dubai established Dubai Internet City in 2000 and Dubai Media City in 2001. The establishment of these "Cities" has guaranteed that most of the major businesses in the world have a presence in Dubai.
Dubai is also a major tourist destination. It is home to the Burj Al Arab hotel, which is considered one of the best in the world and is also one of the tallest. Dubai has built three palm shaped islands off its coast. These are the largest man made islands in the world, and they will be home to hotels, resorts, apartments, homes, shopping centers, and resturants. Dubai also hosts many major sporting events, including the Dubai World Cup, which is the richest horse race in the world
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